Tag Archives: Rajat Arora

Movie Review: Plan A Plan B (2022)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Plan A Plan B on Netflix

The lack of effort that went into making Plan A Plan B is readily apparent. Stars Tamannaah Bhatia and Riteish Deshmukh are occasionally able to elevate the poor material they’re given to work with, but much of the movie is forgettable.

Fault for the film lies at the feet of director Shashanka Ghosh (who made much better films like Veere Di Wedding and Khoobsurat) and writer Rajat Arora (who has a more mixed track record). All of the dialogue feels like a first draft, with characters saying the most obvious things and repeating conversational patterns over and over again. Because the movie was made for a streaming service and thus subject to less stringent Indian censorship requirements, the characters make frequent sex references, but in the most juvenile ways.

Bhatia plays Nirali Vora, a matchmaker taking over a successful business from her mother Kiran (Poonam Dhillon). Kiran announces her retirement by saying, “From now on, it’s just me and my pussy” — by which she means her friend Pushpa. See what I mean about juvenile sex references?

Deshmukh plays divorce attorney Kosty Chougule, who is as enthusiastic about marriages ending as Nirali is about marriages beginning. However, Kosty won’t agree to his own wife Runjhan’s (Bidita Bag) divorce request because he hates to lose and is still in love with her.

That doesn’t stop Kosty from finding plenty of hookups on dating apps. He meets the Indian women he connects with on the apps in public places like restaurants, while the white women he finds come to his apartment in revealing outfits. The harmful oversexed-white-woman trope has fallen out of fashion in recent years, so including it is more evidence of the laziness that went into writing Plan A Plan B.

Nirali and Kosty have offices next to each other in a co-working space in Mumbai. Their personalities clash, resulting in loads of noisy bickering. (If I was one of the other workers renting office space, I’d demand a refund.) The things they fight about are dumb and trivial, as are the reasons why most of Kosty’s clients want divorces. It’s all tidy vs. messy, dogs vs. cats — elementary school examples of opposites, basically. One reason Runjhan wants to divorce Kosty is because he won’t let her help in the kitchen when he prepares gourmet meals for her. Like, is that really a problem?

When Kiran enlists Kosty’s help preparing for her sixtieth birthday party, Kosty and Nirali agree to a truce. (The birthday party triggers some cringe-worthy “Look at these inspirational old ladies” observations from Kosty.)  The truce finally allows Deshmukh and Bhatia the chance to show why they are such likeable actors, as their characters finally try to connect with one another.

That said, there isn’t much chemistry between them, although they may not be at fault. The movie’s lone intimate scene plays out like combat rather than romance. The characters yank on each other’s clothes while strategically holding their heads to hide the fact that their lips aren’t actually touching.

There’s far more sensuality in a dance number Kosty and Nirali perform at Kiran’s birthday party. In fact, just watch their performance to the song “Keh Do Ke” and skip the rest:

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Movie Review: Baadshaho (2017)

1 Star (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at iTunes

Baadshaho (“Kings“) — the latest collaboration between director Milan Luthria and writer Rajat Arora — is a disaster. It’s like they forgot what story they were telling as the movie went on.

In Rajasthan in 1975, a slimy politician named Sanjeev (Priyanshu Chatterjee) uses the federally declared “state of emergency” as a pretext to loot the ancestral wealth of Rani Gitanjali (Ileana D’Cruz) in retaliation for her rebuffing his sexual advances years earlier. Sanjeev sends the army — led by an officer played by Denzil Smith — to retrieve a treasure trove of gold from Gitanjali’s estate, arresting her on pretext of hiding it from the government.

It’s worth noting for the sake of international viewers that the role and duties of royal families like Gitanjali’s isn’t explained, nor is the government’s claim over ancestral wealth. The details of the “state of emergency” aren’t explained either, so it’s not totally clear why the story had to be set in the 1970s. Then again, the costumes and sets are so generic that the only clue that the story isn’t set in modern times is that no one has cell phones.

From inside prison, Gitanjali reconnects with her former security guard and lover, Bhawani (Ajay Devgn), who takes seriously his vow to always protect her. She tasks him not with rescuing her from jail but with making sure that her fortune never makes it to Sanjeev in Delhi. Bhawani assembles a team that includes a safecracker named Tikla (Sanjay Mishra), a woman with an unknown debt to Gitanjali, Sanjana (Esha Gupta), and Dalia (Emraan Hashmi), whose contribution to the group is tacky temporary tattoos and repetitive stories. Bhawani and Dalia trade unfunny quips that perhaps didn’t survive the translation from Hindi to English.

The army’s plan is to drive the gold eight hours to Delhi in an armored truck that looks like a bank vault on wheels, with multiple combination locks right on the back door — a design that renders the plan’s covert nature moot. The supposedly high-tech truck — which can be “tracked by radio” — includes a bright red button that can be pushed in the event of an emergency, turning the truck into an impenetrable bunker for the span of six hours. Obviously, this button plays a huge part in the story, right? One of the thieves gets trapped inside and needs to be rescued or something? Nope. No one ever pushes the button.

Driving the truck is Officer Seher, played by buff Vidyut Jammwal. Jammwal’s character in Commando 2 was introduced with a closeup of the actor’s bicep. Upping the ante, Baadshaho introduces Seher in a train cabin wearing nothing but his underwear.

Because the plan is so straightforward — there’s literally one paved road in the region that can handle the weight of such a heavy truck — obstacles and subplots are manufactured in order to make the movie run longer than an hour. Seher waits four days before setting off for Delhi, conveniently giving the thieves time to plan. Sanjana is grossed out by Dalia one scene, only to fall in love with him in the next scene for no reason.

One of the main reasons to cast Jammwal is to take advantage of his athleticism and martial arts skills. All we get in Baadshaho is a chase scene in which Jammwal runs at about sixty-percent speed so as to not immediately overtake Hashmi. Fight scenes are poorly executed, with actors falling from punches thrown nowhere near them. Bad editing obscures the action, which is often just shots of the actors’ bodies blocking views of the fight. Jammwal’s performance is still the best thing about Baadshaho, but we don’t get to see enough of him doing his signature stunts.

Worst of all is the film’s ending. Without spoiling any specifics, the movie’s climactic fight suddenly stops. The survivors — now in an entirely different location — express relief that the fight is over. Credits roll. What happened to everyone else?! Who lives? Who dies? Is justice done, and for whom?

It’s not even just that things end suddenly. Luthria and Arora don’t bother to resolve the film’s inciting incidents. It’s as though they lost track of the plot threads and forgot who the bad guys are. Beyond being unsatisfying, it’s simply bizarre. Without any kind of meaningful conclusion, Baadshaho is a total waste.

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